The Arroyo Grande High girls water polo team used a stingy defense and a lightning-quick counterattack to cruise to a 14-4 victory over visiting Claremont in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs on Wednesday.
The Eagles, who just won their 100th consecutive PAC 7 game and ninth straight league title last weekend with a 14-5 win over Righetti, jumped all over the Wolfpack, going up 5-0 after the first quarter and 9-0 at halftime.
Brooklyn VanderVeen and Kelsey Docouto paced a balanced scoring effort with three goals apiece for Arroyo Grande.
“I feel like right now our confidence level is really high,” Docouto said. “Going into our quarterfinal game, this is a big confidence boost and hopefully we can keep it going.”
The Eagles (28-6) play at Mira Costa in Saturdays quarterfinals. It will be a rematch of Arroyo Grande’s season opener. In that overtime loss to Mira Costa, Arroyo Grande squandered a two-goal lead in the fourth quarter.
“That was our first game. We were a little shaky and there wasn’t a lot of talking,” Eagles goalkeeper Hanna Wadlow said. “We weren’t really a team yet, you know?
“Through the season we’ve been working a lot. Now that we think like a group, we think like one person, I think we’re going to do a lot better and I think we’ll definitely challenge them.”
Seven players scored for Arroyo Grande against Claremont. Marcella Radke, Alexis Elias and Isabella Manuella all had two each for the Eagles.
“It feels good that we aren’t relying on one player,” VanderVeen said. “We all have good shots from the inside and the outside. Just knowing that we can rely on basically anyone to get a shot off in pressure situations, and when we need a quick goal, we can basically get the ball to anyone and they can put it away.”
Jessica Carmody scored all four goals for the Wolfpack, which opened the game with a heavy press that allowed Arroyo Grande to get out on the counterattack for easy goals.
“We knew they were going to press us so we used that to our advantage,” Eagles coach Steven Allen said. “It was a good confidence game for us. The water polo wasn’t perfect but it gives us something to work on.”
Allen’s team has had its sights set on a return to the Division 3 finals, but he knows his team is in for a fight if it wants to get there.
“The expectations have changed as the season progressed,” Allen said. “For this group, it’s always kind of been get to the semis and see what happens. This quarterfinal game is going to be anybody’s ball game. Whoever plays well is gonna win.”